ColdBrook Campground San Gabriel Mountains

cold brook, campground, los angeles, national forest, camping, rv, travel

The Coldbrook Campground – San Gabriel Mountains

When do you know you have found the best campsite host ever? When you camp at the ColdBrook Campground in the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles!

Recently I took a tour into the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California for a few days of what I expected to be solitude, serenity and some peace and quiet. Little did I know that the universe had something entirely different in store for me.

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Did he mention that there was a bear in these here woods?!?!

Arriving first at the ColdBrook Campground, I was greeted by the campsite host Ron. I asked about the campground, the fees, and the best possible spot for Chico and I.  (We let him know that we were here for some relaxing, reflecting, and decompression from the previous weeks adventures across the country.) Ron was super helpful and recommended what seemed to be the ideal spot for us to camp. He also nonchalantly mentioned that there was a bear roaming around the area as we pulled away slowly. That bear introduced himself not once, but twice while we were in those mountains, and his brazen, fearless appearances can be seen in this video

We (Chico and I) set up the van for use, and a hammock next to the babbling brook that was just a few feet away from our parking spot and settled in for the evening. Everything was great until the next late afternoon, when on my left a group of about twenty family members arrived to have a very loud BBQ. I tried to rest in the hammock, with earplugs and all, but with the gang of young kids splashing a couple of feet away in the brook, the peaceful solitude was gone. 

cold brook, campground, los angeles, national forest, travel, rv

It’s an unexpected go time!! 

Smiling and waving, I packed up my things and drove up the hill 8 more miles to Crystal Lake Campground seeking the peace I so desperately wanted to experience. It wasn’t long before Ron showed up asking if everything was ok. Apparently the man camped to my right had told him I had left angry, and that the party was being disrespectful by encroaching on the campsite that I had reserved. The former being completely untrue, but the latter was totally accurate.

Ron’s concern was genuine and I appreciated his dedication to ensuring that guests at his site felt welcome and comfortable. I assured him that all was well, I just needed some quiet time and it wasn’t happening there. After thanking and seeing him off, Chico and I prepared for bed and drifted off into dreamland. 

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The next day after spending a few hours in this new campsite, we were missing the waterfalls and sounds of the Coldbrook Campground and decided to give it another go. Heading down the mountain, the brakes began to smoke and stink from the pressure and heat, and we pulled into the campground in a cloud of stinky smoke. Ron was there to greet us, and mentioned that downshifting to either the 2nd or 1st gear would help with that problem! This was something I was unaware of as I have always driven manual cars that usually weighed much less of what Samsara weighs. 

Thanking him, we rolled into the campsite hoping for the same beautiful spot as before, but it was occupied, and a large white dog was across the way barking loudly. Undeterred we went back to Ron’s site to seek advice. As gracious as he always was, he recommended another space that ended up being even better. And as if his checking on us, insight on downshifting a van down the mountain, and recommendation on the perfect spot wasn’t enough, Ron went a few steps further, making me understand what it is to be the best campsite host ever. 

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He took Chico and I on a walk, showing us the out of the way kind of secret hiding spots to post up that were constantly secluded, yet close enough to reach in just a few minutes. He shared about his love for animals when he produced a bag of cat food for two young strays who lived in the forest which he fed and prayed for every evening. He cleaned the brook, moving rocks that had been stacked by previous campers to ensure the continuous flow of the water, explaining that the ecosystem was important and the maintenance of this was a priority to him. When I mentioned that some children had killed a squirrel and were planning to skin it and cook it, he immediately went to their campsite and confronted them. Ron took his responsibility as campground host very seriously, and I respected it immensely. The site was beautiful – the people were kept in check, and Ron made sure that all was maintained and in proper order.

After spending some time watching and interacting with him, I became even more curious about who this forest angel was, and what he was about, so I asked him to join me for dinner. After a lengthly conversation, I felt that I had made a new friend. Ron is someone who taught me how to respect and care for nature even more than I do now, how to become a campsite host (, and what it means to be kind to all creatures. He also has been the only person yet to guess what my Chinese tattoo says which told me that he is also an excellent observer of character. 

I hope that all campsite hosts that Chico and I meet down the road are as thoughtful, considerate, caring and kind as Ron has been, and I appreciate his willingness to share some of his time and knowledge with us. 

Have you ever met someone on your journey who has inspired you in some way? What was that experience like? Do share your story with us by using the comment section below!

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